Saturday, 31 May 2008

Cit J in Indonesia: In the process of growth!

This citizen journalism activities is actually consumed my life. I've got a lot of added activities that I would normally avoid to minimize financial costs. The internet and the transportation costs were some unimportant additional budget for the family's expenses. But it is also worth doing, my mind has got the outlet that I do need to balance my life. While I'm trying very hard to have better and more balance time management, I also feel the need to be involved in it. It has enriched my life, enriched my way of seeing the global world.

Being just a blogger would probably easier than being a citizen reporter. As a blogger it is easier just to upload whatever happened in our daily life. But I'm also thankful that I came into blogging through CitJ websites, as I can be more aware about ethics and objectivity in presenting my posts. It helps to avoid misunderstanding, although I knew that the possibility is still existed! I can also avoid centralizing my thoughts on my own self. I need to hear others' perspectives too, and that is really worth in enriching my own knowledge.

I've also seen that people here tended to respond to lighter articles. People like daily, personal life story better than "news". A focused blog is also gained more interests and intensive communication with readers. Indonesians are also tended to be very active in commenting to blog posts in bahasa Indonesia.

An article in OhmyNews International was actually asking the question, who decides if it's news? That would be readers...

Yesterday, the mainstream media Kompas has relaunched its, they said it was the launching of Reborn. With all the capital they've got, they can actually finance a better site. They have more complete facilities, from radio to TV, and it is also serving selebrity blogs. As its icon they presented a young artist Sandra Dewi. She had got her blog, uploading her daily story for her fans.

I've been watching their changing performance over the recent periode, and I've seen that the reborn KoKi (Kompas Kita), the citizen journalism part of Kompas in a better presentation. It is also providing a space for its readers' forum.

This readers' forum reminding me of the mailing list of Forum Pembaca Kompas. This group is not administered by people from the mainstream media Kompas. Yet, the FPK mailing list has already variety of readers and very enlightened comments. The Forum from Kompas community seems more like a forum of bloggers' chat.

It sure that readers are the one who decided which news they would like to read. And that would be very clearly seen in the online version. Administrator can check out which articles have more viewer, and perhaps also valuable comments (valuable means that it would improve the meaning of the article either by praising it or by criticizing it).

I think is aiming to the Indonesian youngsters either here or abroad, just as the Stomp from the Singapore's Straits Times focusing on its young readers. I've seen the printed version of the Stomp as the additional pages in the Straits Times. I like their column "English as it is broken" because as Asian we might run into the same mistakes.

Citizen Journalism will surely be mingling with the conventional term of "journalism", so there will be no need to debate if citizen journalism is going to die or to be reform into another model. It is a process of the changing world. I like reading Amy Gahran's post about "What is Citizen Journalism?". She asked "Does CitJ Matter?" and wrote that "For hyperlocal community news, yes, citizen journalists are becoming a major force in many places -- especially in places that the mainstream media tend to overlook."

I think that is the important essence of citizen journalism, to help the mainstream media get their attention into problems that they missed out in their publication. I can see it through wikimu, I hope I'll see it through KoKi, or other citizen journalism website.

When I wrote about the disappearance of Asal Usul, I was actually aimed to upload it for Kompas citizen journalism website, but I don't know how to do it. Today I find that KoKi (I've seen their readers' postings long time ago before this relaunch of has an easier and friendlier way to submit an article.

I believe in a process, the time is having its own cycle of process...Citizen journalism websites might be closed down, but the seeds planted has growing up elsewhere...

I do hope that Indonesian will learn mostly on the intellectual right, recently another Indonesian blogger found that a picture from his blog was taken and printed in a book. This kind of piracy is something that we do need to fight in order to become a real better citizen. People need to learn about ethics, some Indonesians would probably think that if you are uploading your thoughts, pictures, or any other kind of artwork in your blog, it would be a free offer to copy and paste. "Copy Paste, Why not?" asked a contributor from wikimu. According to this contributor, having others copied and pasted our work means that we are having our voices spread out just like the multilevel marketing way of doubling our readers. Yet, if the copy and paste did not even mentioned who did that work (don't even say to ask a permission to use it), or if the writing were sent using other's name? Is that still OK?

I think CitJ websites are important to fight this kind of piracy. The community help other member of the community when they spotted their works printed under other credit title.

I rumbled here through blog, posting the articles to the citJ websites to gain editing and comments before uploading it in this blog. Yet, I'm not so sure about uploading in the blog first before sending it to the mainstream media or using it for other professional task. I'm still in the process of getting out of my own "cage", and still learn a lot to be able to teach the younger generation, at least to teach my own sons!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

BC Blog Competition - ICD

The three winners for the British Council Blog Competition (ICD) are:

1. Ahmad Fauzi Ridwan
2. Ika D
3. Oscar Prajnaphalla

I couldn't find the blog posts with ICD tag from Ika D's blog, but the other two blogs have a very impressive postings. Congratulation! It would be very nice to have more and more young people who care about intercultural dialogue...that would be a better base for a global peace.

I think these young peoples are better in representing Indonesians than the flock of students who demonstrated for the increasing fuel price with so much anger! Calm down... , try a better dialogue than ruining our own country. Tourism is the most important asset for Indonesia in the meantime, if we can't provide safety and comfortable journey than we can say good bye to our foreign visitors. I hope more and more young Indonesian facing their role in the society in a more mature and intellectual way! Education is the key to it!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

IYCEY: Planting More Professional Youngsters!

The British Council Blogging Competition is coming to the second topic Knowledge Economy (KE). Actually I am more interested in talking about intercultural dialogue than knowledge economy, but as we are living in the global world where knowledge economy will help the survival of a nation I will try to give some of my cents on this issue.

As stated in the official website of BC now 60, British Council Indonesia’s programmes related to the KE issue are:
Creative Industries
Education UK
Scholarship Management
Primary Innovations Project

Today (May 24, 2008) Indonesians are facing the augmentation of the fuel price. There will be a lot of consequences coming from the increasing price, generally the transportation cost will be increased and almost all prices will going up with them. At the same time our capability of paying are not increasing so we are going to face a harder life.

It is a bit annoying that a country which is one of the oil producers could be beaten by the increase price of the oil market in the global world. Why can’t we enjoy the increasing price as an increase source of income? On the contrary, the citizens should be suffering to provide a proper life for their families.

Being independent economically will really help Indonesia to build its future. In this sense then knowledge economy is a very important issue in gaining a better position to be free in financial term.

Knowledge Economy is a very huge topic to discuss, I would probably limit myself with several sub topics although all of these programmes are very interesting to browse around to get new knowledge and inspirations.

I will start by talking about the creative industries.
There is a programme that I’ve also mentioned in my intercultural dialogue post; the International Young Creative Entrepreneur of the Year Awards (IYCEY). The Indonesians who were sent to London to join their other friends impressed the panel of juries, and for the year 2007/2008 Indonesia gained the honour to be the only country worldwide invited to compete for all four of the IYCEY awards.

I have been peeking into Yoris Sebastian’s weblog about his trip to the UK. It seems that this kind of travel to meet other participants will always trigger creative persons to have new ideas, or at least other reflective thoughts.

Yoris Sebastian won a consolidated prize in the UK for his Goliath proposal. He started to work on his project and did a good start. He invited Ben Drury from the UK to share Ben’s experience with digital music to the Indonesian music entrepreneurs. On the other hand, being Indonesian, he knew the Indonesian market and he had his own way in introducing the digital music to Indonesians. Sharing knowledge as Yoris said is not swallowing the whole knowledge from others and penetrating it in another country without knowing the market’s capacity.

Another person known from the IYCEY is Ridwan Kamil, an Indonesian architect –also an urban planner. His award winning perhaps has also showed the Indonesian peoples that we are also having local seeds to grow in the global competition.
Reading through other website I found out that his company Urbane was also offering a fellowship programme. And it turns out that the programme was also linked to the British Council. The final selection included the ability to make a presentation and answering interview in English. The important message from this programme is the need to improve our local architects’ competencies to be able to compete in the professional world sans frontier.

I am happy for this kind of achievements received by our young professionals. It would help increase the fighting spirit of their colleagues and for the whole young Indonesians in general.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

“Asal Usul” yang Menghilang

Jumat, 16-05-2008 10:06:20 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Suara Konsumen

Ada yang hilang dari harian cetak Kompas sejak bulan Mei 2008. Asal Usul, sebuah rubrik kesukaan saya yang biasanya muncul di hari Minggu, sudah dua hari Minggu tidak muncul mengunjungi saya. Rupanya rubrik ini memang dihapuskan oleh Redaksi harian cetak Kompas, berita penghapusan rubrik ini saya temui dari blog Ariel Heryanto, seorang akademisi yang seringkali ikut mengisi rubrik "Asal Usul".

Saya memang menyukai rubrik yang satu ini, bahkan sedikit menyayangkan karena rubrik ini tidak mendapat jatah ruang di Kompas online. Salah satu artikel saya di pernah mengangkat topik yang berasal dari kolom Asal Usul (lihat

Sebenarnya saya sendiri kurang mengerti makna sebenarnya dari "Asal Usul", apakah asal-asalan mengajukan usulan, atau justru mencoba menggali riwayat sebuah kisah atau kejadian dengan lebih mendalam. Hanya saja saya merasa senang membaca isinya yang santai tapi cukup telak sebagai penyambung lidah rakyat.

Terkadang saya juga belajar berdialog antar budaya, misalnya dalam "Jabelan" yang dikisahkan oleh Suka Hardjana (Kompas, Minggu, 4 Februari 2007). Saya yang tidak mengenal istilah jabelan jadi memperoleh sedikit tambahan perbendaharaan bahasa Jawa. Belum lagi dengan adanya sedikit episode epik Bharatayuda yang membantu saya mengenal sekilas tentang cerita perwayangan tanpa perlu menonton wayang semalam suntuk. Sayang sekali karena rubrik ini tidak masuk dalam versi daring (online), karena menurut saya isinya bisa untuk terus berkaca dan memeriksa diri. Intinya jabelan itu menuntut kembali hadiah atau benda yang sudah diberikan kepada orang, bisa juga pembatalan kembali janji yang sudah diikrarkan. Yang saya suka adalah akhir dari tulisan ini yang ditutup perkataan: "Rakyat itu benar-benar hidup susah-mbok ya malu dikit gitu lho. Jangan sampai ada jabelan kuasa rakyat sungguhan. Bisa repot."

Baru-baru ini saya sempat tercengang ketika mengikuti acara pendidikan seks di sekolah anak saya, dalam sesi yang harus diikuti oleh orang tua dan anak itu baru saya tersadar betapa banyak definisi tentang seks dan seksualitas yang saya ketahui tapi dalam saat bersamaan betapa sedikit hal yang saya ketahui yang berhasil saya komunikasikan kepada anak saya. Banyak hal, termasuk pengalaman hidup, rupanya merupakan faktor penunjang dalam membuat sebuah definisi. Sementara itu bagaimana saya berkomunikasi tentang suatu permasalahan - yang dahulu mungkin tabu untuk dibicarakan orang-orang tua di dekat saya- kepada anak saya, ternyata masih kurang efektif. Saya jadi teringat kembali pada tulisan "Asal Usul" Ariel Heryanto di Kompas cetak (Minggu, 17 Juli 2005) tentang "Porno". Disana dikatakan betapa miripnya pornografi dan terorisme, betapa keduanya susah untuk didefinisikan. Tidak heran kalau komunikasi tentang kedua hal ini seringkali sulit bertemu karena dilihat dari sudut pandang berbeda.

Tulisan terakhir yang sempat saya nikmati adalah dari Mohamad Sobary berjudul "Dari Desa ke Indonesia" (Kompas, Minggu, 27 April 2008) yang mengisahkan sedikit oleh-oleh dari seminar pembangunan desa. Bagaimana pembangunan desa bisa menjadi salah satu strategi nation building dan character building. Kalau biasanya "Redaksi Yth" mendapatkan jatah halaman yang cukup besar di harian Kompas cetak Minggu, maka sejak dua minggu lalu hanya beberapa surat yang mendapat jatah untuk menggantikan isi rubrik "Asal Usul" di samping artikel menarik "Persona".

Apakah karena portal partisipatori warga sudah berkembang sehingga "Asal Usul" bisa tergantikan oleh suara langsung dari rakyat? Padahal dalam beberapa hal warga biasa model saya sebenarnya masih belum mampu merangkum berbagai suara yang berseliweran di sekitar saya, sehingga saya merasa masih membutuhkan orang-orang yang cukup berani untuk menyuarakan suara hati rakyat. Sedangkan untuk menuliskan tulisan dengan penelitian yang cukup dan tidak "asbun" memang membutuhkan tenaga, pikiran, dan tidak jarang juga biaya yang cukup berarti.

Apakah surat-surat pembaca lebih baik bila dimuat oleh portal partisipatori rakyat daripada di dalam media cetak? Biasanya surat-surat sejenis dari "Redaksi Yth" dimasukkan semua dalam jatah ruang yang cukup besar di harian Minggu, hal ini memungkinkan pembaca melihat berbagai macam keluhan dalam satu topik secara lebih obyektif.

Entah mengapa terjadi perubahan ini, kalau dari blog Ariel Heryanto bisa dibaca sedikit kisah "Asal Usul" dari sudut pandang dan pengalaman salah satu kontributor kolom tersebut, mungkin tulisan ini sekedar bisikan lirih dari seorang pembaca kecil yang tidak berarti.

Cari dan Songsong Sang Mentari...

Selasa, 13-05-2008 08:18:32 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Sastra

Sepuluh tahun sudah berlalu,

Air mata mengering tertelan waktu,

Tapi guratan duka yang menggores tajam bagai sembilu,

Tak jua hilang berlalu.

Kemarahan sudah menjadi milik Allah,

Tetapi kebenaran belum jua terkuak,

Untuk itu biar perjuangan terus berbuah,

Karena kebenaran perlu kembali berdiri tegak.

Sembilu yang menggores dalam di hati,

Menorehkan luka yang dalam di hati mereka yang kehilangan buah hati,

Di hati mereka yang kehilangan orang-orang yang dicintai,

Pun di hati mereka yang terguncang karena nasionalisme dicederai.

Perjuangan bukan sekedar mengejar dendam,

Perjuangan mencoba merekat retakan yang melebar berserak,

Menyatukan rasa kebangsaan dan kebenaran yang tersimpan dalam kelam,

Sementara asa seakan mengawang dalam awan berarak.

Berarak menjauh...

Tipis menghilang...

Terhadang badai dan topan yang bergemuruh...

Menggulung habis semangat juang.

Kuberharap pada mentari,

agar membagi sinar terang menyapu sang kelam,

agar lepas jeratan sang malam pada putaran roda hari,

agar bangkit kembali bangsa ini mendobrak masa lalu yang suram.

Bangkit bangsaku, bangkit dan bersatu...

Bersama mengenang kesalahan untuk tak mengulang kembali.

Karena kejayaan itu pernah datang pada masa yang lalu...

Bersama berusaha agar bukan kejayaan semu yang datang kembali.

Ayo bangkit dan berdiri...

Cari dan songsong mentari pagi menari...

Raih sinarnya ke dalam buli-buli...

Untuk penerang di kala malam belum pergi.

Sunday, 11 May 2008


My blog post about The British Council and the Tools for Intercultural Dialogue gained a comment from a reader that I was exaggerating the importance of English language. My article for that I also posted here in my blog gained another kind of comment, different...but a bit similar in essence. The commentator hoped that there will be no "forcing" of one's culture dominating others' cultures. He preferred to use the translators help in international discussion to show the equality of valuing others' cultures (meaning languages).

I wrote down the outcomes of intercultural dialogue programme in that article:
1. Strengthen understanding and level of trust between people in the UK and other societies.
2. Strengthen the consensus for rejecting extremism in all its forms.
3. Increase the ability of individuals and organisations to contribute to positive social change and the strengthening of civil society.
4. Increase the use of English as a tool for international communication and intercultural understanding.

The reader from wikimu pointed out the outcome no. 4 as the possibility of forcing a culture from a stronger nation to dominate the culture of the weaker nations.

Jean-Jacques Subrenat had posted in his blog Serenidee (in the year 2006) the highlight on the media and linguistic diversity and on the linguistic diversity in regional integration. He was also mentioning about the cost efficiency of linguistic diversity, in this case for European Union. I did not know before that translation is also considered as unworthy cost.

When I wrote my blog posts I did not have any prejudice feeling about forcing one's culture on others. I was thinking about exchanging cultures, enriching our knowledge with others' cultures while at the same time increasing our pride in our own culture.

Another Indonesian contributor for Ohmynews International, Lily Yulianti, was once upload in her local citizen journalism website Panyingkul, some pictures she had taken in Seoul in her article about how English language spread with louder voice. Look at those photos in the article, without even understand our bahasa Indonesia, you'll grab the essence of why David Graddol in his book "English Next" has said that "the enemy of the English language is the language itself".

I think it is important that the ESL speakers are trained to be equally capable to use the language correctly. By training local teachers to use the language correctly it would do a great deal for the education development in the country.

A contributor for the Jakarta Post has mentioned the importance of checking on the teachers from international schools. It is so true that in some cases "These teachers need training and that training may not just be in language skills. They may also need pedagogical training to allow them to adapt to international styles and methods of educating." Bringing more native speakers might not be the good solution for us, but enriching the local teachers might be a valuable asset for the future of our education. While taking the international styles and method of educating to enrich our own education style we are also enriching our human resources.

I remember how pak Harto (Soeharto), our former president used only Bahasa Indonesia in international meetings. We used to compare him with our first president who delivered his international speeches in English. Reading some books about Soeharto, I found out that it could also be his nationalism way of showing out our national language. He claimed it that way (but we, as students, used to doubt his ability in speaking English). Now, I realized that for some people it is really important to have their national language taken as equal as other international languages.

Ohmynews International Citizen Reporters' Forum was my first experience in an international meeting using a translation headphone. It was nice hearing the direct translation through the headphones. I did even try to hear the Korean translation of an English presentation just to fulfill my curiousity.

I am still thinking that English language can be a bridge to the global world. And it would not stop me from admiring the richness of other languages. Indonesia has more than 550 dialects (and/or traditional languages), we do need to help keeping it from extinction (which might be a very hard task to fulfill). Bahasa Indonesia is the bridge in the archipelago, and English (for me) is another bridge to the global world. So I do hope this "bridge" would not ruin the "two lands" connected through its presence.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Will citizen journalism websites survive?

I've read from the daily Kompas (Thursday, 8th May 2008) that the online Skoeps from the Netherland is going to end their journey. The sustainable business model for a citizen journalism website was the topic we were discussing in Seoul. It seems to be difficult to gain it in this capitalistic world.

I was actually praising Ohmynews International (despite the fact that I would not gain a good sum to cover my monthly internet expenses from them anymore) because they were brave enough to cut the contributor's cybercash after hearing the complain from the international reporters about the low rate of cybercash. I realized that cutting the cybercash would probably cut down articles but those who continue sending their articles are really doing it out of their idealism.

I am a bit busy with my own family problems. The twins are going to enter elementary school while they aren't able to read yet. Something important for the private elementary school here. Why don't I choose a public school? Because I'm not sure if their level of competency in the public school is high enough. That would be a problem in entering the university as their foundation is not strong enough.

The economic crises of the global world is also hit Indonesians. Education is also very expensive now. At the same time, people are now targeting their children to be able to compete in the global world. Education is very important to gain the same level of competency in the fast changing global world. Our family expenses with three children will be focused mostly on their education. Perhaps that was the reason people in the West used to prefer less children. I don't know exactly how the social security works for them, neither do I know their tax payment. I only heard foreign people grumbling on high rate of taxes' expenses.

I think for the middle class who are blessed with the capability to connect to the internet, the citizen journalism website can be a place to take out all the daily stressing problems as our voices. Those who aren't lucky enough might have more problems but can't aired it as time and financial reason could blocked them.

I've seen some good contributors disappeared from wikimu because their new work post did not give them the possibility to do a regular browsing. Or may be they don't even have access to the internet anymore. There will be a lot of reasons. It could also be that we,who blog, (as accused by some friends) are people without real work.

Citizen journalism website for me is an added version of a blog community. If a blog community is gaining us a chance to meet other bloggers, then the citizen journalism is giving us the additional benefit: gaining editorial help to enhance our writing style. In wikimu, it also helps reader to be able to build their confidence to start writing. Unlike the international school curricula, the Indonesian school did not really train their students to express themselves through writing. We were not even encourage to express different opinion from the teachers. I'm glad it is now getting better and better with more schools encouraging their students to write freely. There are also a lot of young writers, some were spotted through their blogs. I'm surely hope that the citizen journalism will also be the bridge to the increasing writing habit in the younger generation.

We do have professionals sharing their voices through wikimu. That's a good support as people would not value citizen journalism as the product of amateurs. We are supporting each others.

I found that our news in wikimu were also helping the mainstream media journalists to get ideas of topic. And now they need to have a more comprehensive research to present to their readers.

From the three deadly E's that were pointed out by Vincent Maher, I think the worst enemy is the economy. The citizen journalism website like wikimu should try hard to gain their tools to be able to stand independently in business.

As people enter citizen journalism websites they will need to learn about ethics, and if we are not only targeting ourselves in hardnews...then we can also gain "a tool for reflection and crystallisation of truths". The persistent value of the message should also force the writer to be more careful in writing objective news for citizen journalism websites.

Citizen journalism website can also be the place to fight plagiarism in the mainstream media. The online and persistent article will help us to help each other preventing our work being taken and published in other people's account. A case happened to a contributor from wikimu, Ukirsari. A picture from her blog is being used as a picture in the advertising column in a national daily with different credit title. She did discover it herself, but at least we do know to be more careful with copy right. Those who work in the media should always be more careful and be more professional in doing their job. I regret that they did not apologize directly after it was caught. It is also surprised me that a giant mainstream media could let the staff print "Ralat Foto" (misplacement picture or/and with/without credit title) instead of "apology to Ukirsari for misplacement of credit title". Taking pictures from someone's blog is not an ordinary misplacement of pictures or credit title, even if they will pay it afterward I think they still need to apologize.

I did pointed out some letters from reader's letters (of mainstream medias) that also pointed out the publication of the same article in two different medias in my article for One of the letters mentioned two articles which had the same content but with different name of writer. That reader needed a verification from the Editorial whether the writer send his article to two different publication under different names. The real writer of the article did not even aware about that reader's letter. He found my article while browsing, and wrote a comment to verify it. He was also writing in his blog about it. He is credible enough, perhaps that was the reason that the editorial did not even call him to clarify it. Personally I think cases like these are important to point out so that writers learn to respect others' intellectual rights. It could help the society to build a real professional environment. It could also be the seed to grow our awareness in fighting piracy. Right now perhaps most Indonesian are attached to the pirated version which is of course cheaper than the original version mostly due to our low rate shopping capability. With some help (free software from Bill Gates as the promised example) I do hope we are able to do it step by step.

Will citizen journalism websites survive? I don't know, but we need to support it to success. With a good collaboration between the citizen reporters (or bloggers, even the anonymous one perhaps?!) and the professional journalists, and also by retaining the need to check and rechecked fact before reporting it as news, we do need this citizen journalism websites. How they will survive the economy factor? Hope the administrators are smart enough for that...

What is difficult for a citizen reporter?

I've got to say that time management is the most difficult task for me. There are a lot of issues that I'd like to write about but I did not have enough time and energy for that. There is another real life to attend to...

I don't want to say that cyber world is not real, but being a citizen reporter is not helping out to pay our expenses in the real world. Being attached to the process of writing can also take a lot of my time and attention. Just imagine an artist who can not stop painting...and a citizen reporter who would like to continue writing...

Each day there are interesting issues to cover, interesting news to type on...

But the most difficult aspect of being a citizen reporter in the internet is my own feeling and commitment. If a mainstream media journalist interviews people and the article was never show up, there would be some excuses...the editor rejected it or there is no room in the newspaper/magazine. But in the internet? There are plenty of editor for one's own blog except the owner's self. Yet, sometimes the sparkling spirit is not there...

I still owe an article to mas Irwan from Yayasan Mitranetra. I'd like to write an article about his poetry anthology book, the first poetry book by visually impaired person from Indonesia. Just in the middle of my writing I could not continue as I knew I would not want to cover him only because he's got the visual problem, but because of the value of his work.

Sometimes writing is very easy...words came in or poured into my mind (the black box thinker) just like the corn popping out inside the machine. But there are times when I do care and would not slip a word....then the words are hiding...nowhere to find!

And this is the hardest part of being a citizen reporter...not producing a word after the interview...

Ayo Bicara Tentang Dialog Antar Budaya!

Kamis, 08-05-2008 13:51:08 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Peristiwa

Kompetisi blog dari British Council sudah dimulai sejak bulan April kemarin, topik dalam bulan pertama adalah Dialog Antar Budaya (Intercultural Dialogue). Seharusnya batas waktu penulisan topik ini di blog hanya sampai tanggal 6 Mei 2008. Rupanya banyak juga blogger yang masih bingung bagaimana caranya mengikuti kompetisi ini sehingga tenggat waktu kompetisi topik pertama diperpanjang sampai tanggal 11 Mei 2008. Berhubung masih ada waktu, yuk cepat ikutan juga...

Sebenarnya menarik sekali untuk berbicara tentang "Dialog Antar Budaya", terutama karena dunia yang semakin global, terutama dengan kehadiran internet ini, membuat percakapan yang tidak terbatas lagi. Dalam portal pewarta warga sangat jelas terlihat betapa banyak pemikiran berbeda yang bisa timbul, betapa banyak kesalahan persepsi yang mungkin muncul. Terkadang hal itu muncul dari pilihan kata, atau kebiasaan berpikir, atau mungkin bahkan dari ketidaktahuan.

Ada empat tujuan yang ingin dicapai British Council dalam program-program yang bersinggungan dengan Dialog Antar Budaya:

1. Memperkuat pemahaman dan tingkat kepercayaan antara masyarakat dari UK dengan masyarakat lainnya.

2. Memperkuat konsensus untuk menolak semua bentuk ekstrimisme.

3. Meningkatkan kemampuan individu-individu dan organisasi dalam menyumbangkan perubahan sosial yang positif dan memperkuat masyarakat sipil.

4. Meningkatkan penggunaan bahasa Inggris sebagai alat untuk komunikasi internasional dan pemahaman antar budaya.

Ayo wikimuers yang punya blog, jangan lupa ikutan bagi-bagi suara...(ingat daftar dulu di Bisa dalam bahasa Indonesia, bisa dalam bahasa Inggris, selain topik ini masih ada dua topik menarik lainnya yang akan dibicarakan dalam dua bulan mendatang. Ayo gaungkan suara!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Antara Idealisme Dan Materialisme

Kamis, 01-05-2008 12:54:11 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Opini

Perlukah manusia memilih antara idealisme dan materialisme? Menurut saya, jangan pernah memilih! Idealisme dan materialisme tampaknya seperti yin dan yang, saling berkejaran dalam lingkaran harmoni.

Cikal bakal tulisan ini sebenarnya sudah lama berada di dalam PC saya setelah membaca artikel dari Bajoe (baca: Bayu) berjudul "Jurnalis Tolak Amplop, Perjuangkan Upah Layak Rp 4,1 Juta! (lihat dan tulisan Gus Wai yang berjudul "Berapa 0.5% dari 50 Juta?" (lihat Niatnya ingin disempurnakan tapi waktu berlalu dan kegiatan yang banyak membuatnya terbengkalai.

Tulisan Bajoe buat saya sangat menarik karena bukan hanya jurnalis yang akhir-akhir ini berjuang untuk memperoleh upah yang layak. Sebelumnya para guru juga ramai menggelar demo menyuarakan suara hati mereka. Hari ini (1 Mei 2008) kaum buruh juga ramai bersuara meminta keadilan upah yang layak (selain perlakuan yang layak dan manusiawi tentunya).

Artikel dari Bajoe menghasilkan komentar yang cukup tajam terhadap pemilik bisnis media yang menurut si pemberi komentar seharusnya lebih peka terhadap kebutuhan minimal para pekerjanya karena mereka berasal dari orang-orang yang punya idealisme pada saat pertama mendirikan media tersebut.

Sementara artikel dari Gus Wai mengingatkan saya betapa sering kekurang mampuan menganalisa dan mengelola keuangan menjadi bagian dari perjuangan orang-orang dengan idealisme ini untuk tetap bertahan membesarkan usaha sekaligus harus mengikuti arus kapitalisme yang nyata di dunia ini.

Kali ini saya ingin sekedar berbagi pengalaman pribadi (maaf kalau ngalor-ngidul), bagian dari sebuah perjalanan yang belum selesai...

Saya masih ingat ketika dahulu masih duduk di bangku SMA, terjadi diskusi kecil-kecilan (kalau tidak bisa dibilang perdebatan kecil) mengenai cinta dan materi. Harap maklum karena murid sekolah saya isinya wanita semua sehingga perdebatan lebih bebas dan terbuka. Seorang sahabat berkeras bahwa cinta perlu memperhatikan materi, jangan pernah jatuh cinta pada pria yang miskin karena kehidupan tidak pernah ramah kepada orang miskin. Seorang teman punya pendapat lain, karena walaupun pria tersebut miskin toh mereka berdua bisa bekerja dan saling membantu. Saya lebih memihak teman yang kedua, pertama karena pendapatnya lebih manusiawi dan tidak membeda-bedakan latar belakang, kedua karena memang saya punya banyak contoh dalam keluarga saya yang berangkat dari kehidupan yang boleh dianggap miskin, tapi bertekun belajar dan bekerja sehingga akhirnya mencapai kesuksesan dalam berusaha.

Teman pertama tetap ngotot dengan pandangannya, menurutnya ide "bibit, bebet, bobot" itu tidak kuno melainkan berasal dari pemahaman yang sangat bagus dari orang Jawa terhadap kehidupan manusia (teman saya ini orang Batak). Walaupun punya pacar yang belum kaya, asal terlihat bibit, bebet, dan bobotnya bukan "madesu" (masa depan suram) barulah boleh diperhitungkan dalam kategori "layak dipacari".

Debat kusir tidak pernah punya kesepakatan, dia dengan pemikirannya (karena tidak bertemu lagi, entah bagaimana pendapatnya sekarang...) sementara teman yang lain dan saya tetap bertahan cinta harus ditempatkan lebih tinggi dari materi dan bibit, bebet, bobot itu. Demikian mungkin idealisme seorang anak muda bila menghadapi pandangan yang lebih umum dianut para orang tua tentang cinta.

Awalnya pembicaraan itu buat saya sekedar intermeso, karena saat itu saya sama sekali belum berniat pacaran apalagi cari suami. Lagi pula buat saya mencari pasangan hidup bukan hitungan dagang! Terlebih lagi saya merasa sebagai idealis sejati, idealisme tidak pernah boleh dihitung dengan materi!

Saya sendiri tidak pernah menyukai angka-angka. Walaupun nilai sekolah saya tidak terlalu bermasalah (kecuali Kimia he..he...he...), tetapi pada dasarnya saya selalu tidak senang berurusan dengan angka. Sebenarnya saya inginnya kuliah di jurusan psikologi tapi tidak diterima (waktu itu universitas swasta yang punya jurusan psikologi belum menjamur seperti sekarang). Saya masuk ke jurusan Arsitektur itu karena terjebak ucapan senior-senior yang meyakinkan bahwa jurusan Arsitektur tidak perlu menghitung banyak. Menurut mereka Matematika hanya ada dua semester, tidak berat! Fisika Bangunan hanya empat semester dan tampaknya materinya termasuk yang saya sukai, OK! Ternyata setelah tiba di dalam, Teknologi Bangunan, ada Utilitas...ternyata jadi arsitek bukan sekedar menggambar bangunan!

Kuliah yang melelahkan dengan banyak tugas yang membuat saya belajar jadi kalong, ketika lulus ternyata berhadapan dengan kenyataan bahwa pasar memberikan imbalan lebih tinggi kepada lulusan pendidikan sekretaris yang pendidikannya hanya selama tiga tahun (terkadang belum lulus sudah disambar perusahaan) atau lulusan ekonomi yang di kampus terlihat lebih banyak waktu luang daripada kami yang di jurusan Teknik. Tidak heran banyak teman-teman yang terlihat berbakat sebagai arsitek malah banting setir memasuki dunia perbankan yang menjanjikan imbalan lebih besar daripada menjadi arsitek yunior.

Saat itu imbalan menjadi arsitek yunior sama dengan yang ditawarkan sebuah usaha penerbitan di bidang media teknologi, hanya tawaran yang kedua ada catatan tambahan yaitu membawa kendaraan sendiri untuk peliputan. Berarti kedua profesi ini saat itu masih setara penghargaannya.

Sebenarnya saya selalu tertarik pada bidang penelitian, terutama masalah perkotaan, tapi takut menjadi frustrasi dan stress karena tahu benar susahnya menjadi orang idealis yang nyemplung di dalam bidang ini di Indonesia. Akhirnya setelah meloncat kesana kemari, mencari-cari tempat yang pas untuk hinggap saya pikir membantu usaha calon suami bisa lebih berguna untuk menyalurkan idealisme. Selain membangun usaha dan menambah lapangan pekerjaan, kami juga bisa lebih nyata melaksanakan praktek keadilan.

Bekerja untuk perusahaan sendiri ternyata jauh lebih berat daripada bekerja bagi orang lain. Selain harus mendesain, menjadi mandor, juga harus bisa menguasai keuangan. Wualah...ketemu angka lagi! Urusan hitung-menghitung bahan, gaji dan biaya produksi terkadang bisa mengalahkan idealisme. Yang ideal dalam desain bisa menjadi bencana dalam praktek karena biaya yang membumbung tinggi! Sebenarnya disinilah sebenarnya dibutuhkan sinergi antara para idealis yang hanya sanggup berkreasi dengan para realis yang sanggup mempertahankan kestabilan profit.

Membaca artikel Gus Wai, saya jadi tersadarkan betapa banyak faktor yang mungkin lalai tidak terhitung dalam menghitung profit sehingga seringkali banyak proyek tidak berarti banyak keuntungan (terkadang bisa malah buntung kalau tidak pandai kalkulasi).

Kembali ke faktor idealisme, setelah bekerja sendiri mampukah terus bertahan dalam idealisme? Ternyata banyak hal lain yang ikut meramaikan pertempuran batin. Banyak hal yang merupakan perputaran siklus masalah antara idealisme dan materi. Tenaga kerja yang kurang kompeten mengakibatkan berkurangnya keuntungan. Pengaturan waktu yang tidak efisien juga mengurangi keuntungan. Kemampuan manajerial di lapangan dan dalam bidang keuangan sangat diperlukan untuk bisa menyehatkan perusahaan dan bisa memampukan untuk terus memperhatikan kesejahteraan karyawan.

Bahkan bila ternyata perusahaan bisa berjalan lancar, masih ada perkembangan dan persaingan yang akan terus mendera. Perjuangan mencapai keseimbangan antara perolehan keuntungan dengan biaya ekspansi dan pembagian untuk kesejahteraan karyawan akan terus berlangsung. Belum lagi tuntutan pekerjaan di zaman yang serba cepat (instan) ini terkadang membuat tuntutan waktu kerja yang tidak lagi berimbang dengan keadilan yang sepatutnya diterima karyawan, atau mungkin bila dilihat dari sudut pandang pengusaha bisa berarti efektivitas kerja karyawan yang tidak maksimal.

Ternyata menjadi pengusaha tidak semudah yang dibayangkan bila seseorang menjadi pekerja. Tidak jarang kemacetan cash flow (aliran dana) membuat tambahan hutang ketika harus mengeluarkan Tunjangan Hari Raya. Yang adil bagi karyawan terkadang menjadi kerugian bagi pengusaha. Ini memang masalah pengusaha kelas teri, saya kurang tahu bagaimana dengan perusahaan besar yang bisa mengail keuntungan besar apalagi bagi media yang memperoleh pendapatan iklan yang besar.

Inti yang ingin saya sampaikan adalah perlunya menyeimbangkan kemampuan berpikir idealis dengan kemampuan berpikir realis. Kehidupan di dunia memang secara nyata membutuhkan materi.

Pernah saya berpikir bahwa materi tidak penting, kebersamaan dan cinta pasti lebih berharga daripada materi. Tetapi begitu mempunyai anak dan kebutuhan yang perlu dicukupi untuk mereka, barulah terasa betapa materi tidak boleh juga disepelekan.

Ada artikel lain yang menarik perhatian saya, artikel dari penulis muda yang masih anak SMA, Lydia Florencia, berjudul "Under Pressure: Benarkah Rasa Ini Merajai Hubungan Orangtua dan Anak?" (lihat, dari artikel tersebut timbul komentar-komentar yang menarik.

Seorang komentator, Darmadi, berpandangan bahwa materi merupakan hal yang sangat penting untuk diperhatikan. Bila anak sanggup berfokus pada pencarian materi (mungkin maksudnya popularitas dan uang) maka teruslah berjalan, orang tua pada akhirnya akan takluk bila anaknya berhasil karena pada dasarnya yang memegang uang yang lebih memiliki kekuatan menawar. Komentar terakhir Lydia mengharapkan sang komentator tidak melihat persoalan hanya dari sisi materi.

Ada aspek dari kometar Darmadi yang sangat realistis, betapa seringkali pemilik materi memiliki kekuatan yang lebih besar daripada yang tidak memilikinya. Bahkan di dunia internasional negara maju yang notebene lebih kaya akan lebih bergaung suaranya daripada negara berkembang.

Hanya tentu saja manusia tidak bisa juga hanya berfokus pada materi, karena seperti roda kehidupan itu terkadang di atas terkadang di bawah, bila terfokus pada sikap mendahulukan materi dan masuk ke dalam kondisi roda di bawah yang keretanya sedang berhenti melaju, maka frustrasi dan stress belaka yang dituai.

Seperti prinsip yin dan yang, prinsip keharmonisan yang selalu ada di dunia ini, idealisme dan materi akan selalu berkejaran. Perlu kepandaian untuk menyeimbangkan keduanya karena kita hidup di dunia yang satu. Melulu berpikir secara idealis akan menyulitkan kita hidup di dunia nyata, sementara berpikir hanya dalam koridor materi juga tidak akan memberikan kebahagiaan yang dicari dalam dunia ini. Idealnya bila sanggup menyeimbangkan keduanya dan senantiasa mengingat hak orang lain sebelum menuntut hak pribadi. Dengan prinsip ini setiap pekerja, dari buruh kecil sampai pegawai tingkat atas akan mengingat kewajiban mereka kepada perusahaan dan senantiasa mendahulukan kepentingan perusahaan, sementara pemilik perusahaan juga senantiasa mengingat kewajiban mereka terhadap asset hidup perusahaan yang turut membesarkan perusahaan mereka.

Selamat refleksi diri di hari Buruh Internasional ini, semoga kedua belah pihak (pengusaha dan pekerja) bisa saling menunjang dalam memajukan perusahaan! Dengan bantuan pemerintah, akhirnya perusahaan juga bisa membantu memajukan negara!

Petualangan Hari Buku yang Seru

Rabu, 30-04-2008 09:18:40 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Peristiwa

Tidak ada yang lebih heboh daripada membawa tiga anak lelaki kecil naik busway dari Kebayoran ke Musium Bank Mandiri di Kota Tua. Pengalaman si kembar naik busway untuk pertama kali sudah cukup heboh, belum lagi pengalaman mereka dan kakaknya menjelajahi acara World Book Day 2008...lebih seru lagi!

Naik busway di hari Minggu ternyata selalu cukup padat penumpang. Mungkin karena adanya peraturan bebas mobil di jalan Sudirman, atau memang warga kota senang berjalan-jalan dengan bus way di hari Minggu. Salah satu anak kembar saya sempat berteriak: "Aduh, sakit dong!" ketika tangannya terjepit oleh seorang dari serombongan anak muda yang naik ke busway. Kepolosan anak-anak yang sangat spontan!

Tahun lalu saya bisa menikmati lebih banyak acara (lihat dan ) sebab anak-anak bisa dipulangkan terlebih dahulu mengingat letak pameran di Plasa Depdiknas cukup dekat dengan rumah orang tua saya. Tapi tahun ini acara World Book Day 2008 benar-benar menjadi acara khusus anak-anak karena kami memang datang pada hari khusus acara bersama keluarga.

Acara pertama yang mereka ikuti adalah membuat layang-layang bersama Komunitas Layang-layang Indonesia. Walaupun ini bukan pertama kalinya mereka membuat layang-layang, tetap saja mereka girang bukan main mendapat kesempatan membuat layang-layang dan menerbangkan layangan buatan sendiri.

Walaupun sudah pernah mengunjungi Museum Bank Mandiri sebelumnya, ternyata saya juga masih cukup kebingungan dengan orientasi arah di selasar-selasar bangunan itu. Alhasil kami naik melalui tangga, tidak heran anak-anak sedikit mengeluh kecapaian. Sang kakak yang lelah naik tangga memutuskan kembali ke bawah untuk meneruskan nonton film "The Little Prince". Kemudian si kembar berkunjung ke gerai Reading Bugs, sementara ibunya keliling sebentar sendirian. Rupanya film "The Little Prince" sudah berakhir sebelum kami kembali ke bawah, dan si kakak yang sudah cukup besar (kelas 4 SD) menangis kebingungan kehilangan ibu dan adik-adiknya. Beruntung seorang teman dari Komunitas Layang-layang Indonesia membantu menelpon saya yang memang sedang mencarinya ke kelas aksara tempat pemutaran film tersebut. Wah, rasanya memang benar-benar berada di tengah komunitas yang penuh dengan rasa kekeluargaan.

Setelah memiliki tambahan tenaga setelah bersantap makan siang di salah satu gerai makanan yang tersedia, kami kembali lagi ke lantai atas (kali ini sudah tahu letak lift). Anak-anak langsung mulai lagi dengan eksplorasinya. Sementara yang kecil bergabung dengan teman-teman lain yang membuat origami di Forum Komunikasi Sitimulyo, sang kakak belajar cara menulis huruf Braille di Yayasan Mitra Netra.

Kemampuan cerna anak memang menakjubkan, dengan mudah dia memahami instruksi untuk membuat tusukan Braille agar dapat dibaca dengan benar dari halaman sebaliknya. Saya juga melihat buku-buku yang sudah diterjemahkan ke dalam huruf Braille, maupun yang dibuat dalam bentuk audio. Buku antologi puisi (lihat yang tidak terlalu tebal ternyata menjadi tiga buah buku dalam cetakan Braille. Tidak heran harga buku cetak Braille jauh lebih mahal dari buku biasa!

Suasana di Forum Komunikasi Sitimulyo terasa sangat akrab bagi anak-anak. Forum ini memang merupakan wadah dari berbagai komunitas yang berada di daerah Sitimulyo, Piyungan, Bantul, Yogyakarta yang mengelola sanggar anak. Organisasi ini berdiri dengan tujuan sebagai forum diskusi/dialog antar antar komunitas pada bulan Januari 2008, dan saat ini sudah ada 12 sanggar anak yang tergabung. Rupanya kebiasaan mereka untuk akrab dengan anak bisa terasa oleh anak-anak sehingga sulit untuk mengajak mereka pulang.

Banyak juga pengunjung yang berkeliaran dengan pakaian yang cukup menarik perhatian anak-anak, rupanya mereka dari komunitas pengagum Harry Potter. Di ruang sebelah lamat-lamat terdengar perbincangan kelompok pengagum Star Trek yang membicarakan ciri khas telinga Mr. Spock yang menarik perhatian penggemar.

Saya sendiri sempat berjalan-jalan lagi tapi tidak menyambangi gerai Blogfam dan Sokola karena di depan area mereka banyak pengunjung yang ramai dengan acara bermain Yo-yo. Saya cukup beruntung karena mendapatkan buku Jurnalisme Komunitas dan CD Majalah Multimedia dari Buku Jurnalisme Komunitas memang lebih banyak membahas tentang Radio Komunitas tapi di dalamnya juga ada pembahasan mengenai etika siaran dan kode etik jurnalistik. Lumayan untuk menambah ilmu jurnalistik!

Pasti masih banyak lagi yang terdapat dan terjadi di acara-acara World Book Day 2008, terutama dari kegiatan Forum dan kegiatan Komunitas di hari-hari sebelumnya. Semoga tahun depan kegiatan ini lebih bergaung lagi!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Building a Bridge...

Bridges between cultures are very important these days. English books like Global Links from Longman are introducing the variety of cultures to smooth business communication in the global world of business. In the first book of English for International Business, it reveals how shaking hands could be performed in different ways. This small example is very important because we could feel offended if somebody would not want to shake hand with us, while the other party's religious culture forbid him to shake hands with a woman (who is not his wife).

There are various ways to build a bridge between cultures. There are arts, musics, and sports as tools that can bridge cultures without even understand the language.

Football is one of the sport that can unify the world. Indonesians are also very fond of football. The final game of the World Cup will certainly make Indonesian streets emptier than the big city street during the Idul Fitri's holidays, people are all gathering in the front of the television set...either at home, at neighbour's house (for those who don't have television set), or other public places with big screen airing the game. No wonder the delegation from Pompey Double Club Portsmouth was really welcome in Indonesia. Now we also have Pompey Double Club Indonesia.

Combining English lesson with sports fun is a good way to help the brain accept the material that people learned. Study said that being in the state of happiness can help increase the ability to absorb the knowledge. Here is a comment from the participant that I quoted from the daily Jakarta Post:
Bertres Risdiansyah of SMP Muhammadiyah 3 Yogyakarta agreed, saying the program had made him more confident in speaking English, even in front of an audience, and provided him with good futsal skills.
"This is a very good program. It should involve more students, not just Muhammadiyah school students," Bertres said.

Yes, we do need to have more bridges, especially to those without the luck of gaining good education to improve their way of seeing things, to help them overcome the prejudice which in turn can also help to reduce prejudice from others towards themselves.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Global Xchange and Intercultural Dialogue

Indonesia is now taking part of the Global Xchange programme, we are sending school students from Padang (West Sumatera) to work together with their counterparts from Stansted (UK). Reasons to take part of this programmes varied for those young volunteers (aged 18-25). Hendriets Mayos (23) according to the Global Xchange website was putting the chance to improve her fluency in English language as her first priority, but then she gained more than that. She is also trained to conduct research and how to write press articles. Those are all invaluable experiences for her young age.

I have also browsed to the international volunteers' stories. It is just the kind of blog that would interest people to know more about others' cultures. Ferdousi Begum, a British Muslim can help people to peek into the new globalized world. She said: "My identity of being a British and Bengali Muslim was a big challenge to their perception of what being British means." On the other hand another British who was not familiar with Islamic world gained a new experience in his relation to the Filipino Muslim volunteer.Adam Christopher Tibe said in his story "New Perspective": "Through experiences like these, I have gained more confidence in dealing with different people. Before, Muslim-sounding names frightened me. Seeing Kim (my fellow Filipino Muslim volunteer) then for the first time gave me an eerie feeling. But not anymore. I know better now. I have realised that he is no different from me apart from his religious beliefs."

Those are facts that I've been blessed to know by experiencing a wonderful friendship within the national and international community that I have entered. I once said that I envy the chance opened for youngsters these days, but I do hope that those chances are really open to all youngsters. I hope that these opportunities will be open not only for those who can afford it, or only to those who are very bright and smart, but also for those who are willing to commit on building a better future.

Katherine Orr in her story revealed how she became more mature through her experience in Global Xchange. She said: "I am now assertive, confident, and (more) mature. I am beginning to actually believe in myself and my abilities. And because of this, I was able to write seven English language teaching modules, translate tribal stories and cultural documentation, help put together a project proposal and make toilet bowls. But more importantly, I discovered that I already had the skills to accomplish all these. I just did not realise it until I faced my own demons!" If she, who came from the UK could gain an increase of self confident...then an Indonesian youngster will gain even more. I have just read in Koran Tempo that Anies Baswedan, the sole Indonesian candidate in the Top 100 Public Intellectuals from the Foreign Policy had experienced the AFS' exchange programme. I believe that there will be more and more intercultural dialogues through exchange programmes. The Global Xchange is another way of enhancing the communication between the UK and the world. Hopefully through the Global Xchange programme would also rise the new young leaders just like Anies Baswedan!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Intercultural Dialogue

Intercultural dialogue for me is actually related to communication tools. When I was very young I used to have a lot of pen pals. I had friends from Indonesia, Brazil, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Denmark, Poland, and the USA. We used to exchange letters telling each other our way of saying things, our cultures, and our own interests. I got those pen friends mostly from the International Youth Service (IYS). The language that made us able to have dialogue through letters is English. Along with it we taught each other a bit of our own languages. My very intensive communication was with the French girl named Mireille Faїn. Then, I was attracted to learn French language; that was how I came to know Centre Culturel Français (CCF). The way I studied the French language in CCF was also an intercultural dialogue. We were exposed to the French culture through readings and dialogues, and there were some native speakers with whom we also share our culture.

Another way to do the intercultural dialogue is by student exchange program. I happened to have some friends from Australia and New Zealand through the AFS exchange program. They came to my school as a student for several months while they lived in my schoolmates’ houses. We learned from each other. It was the first time I knew for real that foreign people are not always richer than Indonesian. One student who was living with my friend’s family told us her happiness because her host parents bought a lot of things for her, things that she had dreamt to have for a long time. There were also different way of living between the girl from the countryside and the girl from the city. I was told how one of our new friends used to milked cows in her family farm. Then there was also the story how to get the wool from the Romney. They also shared news from other friends who had other schools to attend.

My cousin who was younger than me had a better experience as she was able to join the program and was sent to Australia. She was really happy to have that kind of lifetime experience. In fact it made her pursued her further study abroad. Her host parents did visit Indonesia and we were sharing stories about our different cultures and our different lifestyles.

I studied English from school, and from the English course offered by PPIA-LIA, an Indonesian American Friendship Association (now they split into PPIA and LBPP LIA). Then I continued to IPPM, a business school, to continue advancing my English for business (now their language program is closed). Yet, practice is needed to keep the fluency of using a language.

A reader was accusing me of exaggerating the British Council after reading my post on The British Council and The Tools for Intercultural Dialogue. It might seem that way if it was the only blog post he read. I was trying to gather information on the British Council as a citizen reporter. I was focusing in the British Council activities. Personally, my own attachment to the British Council was its library. I think they were focusing on civil servants and public IELT’s examination before. I’ve been closer to the CCF than to the British Council.

These days the British Council is also reaching out to the public. I was invited to the British Council Blogger Day. They were encouraging blogger to blog to enhance the intercultural dialogue. I think that would be more global than my pen friends’ era. Anybody could peek in our posts and gave comment. At least I am now attracted to know more about the Esperanto.

I’m keen to write about the British Council not only for the Blogging Competition, but because they are now opening their services to the public. I’ve put the banner here to attract bloggers’ attention to this event. This blogging competition is open for those who blog in English and for those who blog in Bahasa Indonesia, there is no limitation of language. I think it is good as most Indonesian bloggers are still hesitant to be a bridge blogger, they prefer to blog in Bahasa Indonesia. I’m deliberately become a bridge blogger to gain communicative exchange of information with the global world. The important issue here is not the competition, but the topic of this blog competition. The Indonesian market can gain the prospective information through the blog posts in Bahasa Indonesia, while the bridge bloggers can help spreading the information to the global world.

I've said that the British Council is now opening their services to the public (more than before) as they were conducting events for non civil servants as well. The British Council Blogger Day is one small example. A better representation of the intercultural dialogue is the yearly award for creative person. Indonesian candidate who came to this event can continue to exchange creative ideas with other participants from other countries. In 2006 the Indonesian participant gained a special prize together with another friend from India. The award given are varied each year, but the British Council are now reaching out to the young talents of Indonesia to start building the intercultural dialogue in creative industry.

I’m trying to focus myself on the British Council as there were a lot of events that might not be seen by others. I was informed by the director of business services and relations for the British Council Indonesia, Dina Lucky, in the recent BC Blogger Day, that they are arranging an Indonesian student and a student from the UK to live six months in the UK and six months in Indonesia. There will be some couples each sharing the same roof for a whole year, six months in their partner's country and six months in their own country. If they are to keep an online journal or just share their stories through citizen journalism websites, it would also be a great intercultural dialogue!

The British Council is not only targeting the youngsters, they are also helping to accommodate high level dialogue. I’ve read in the printed daily Kompas that the British Council together with the Department of International Development, also supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London were conducting a conference in the theme of “Indonesia: Political and Economic Prospects”. Although most of the content of the discussion were to keep off the record, the journalist Julius Pour made us readers aware that there was a high level dialogue conducted there. Perhaps the cold weather in Wiston House, Sussex, could help cooling down the hot debate, than if it was conducted here in the hot Jakarta. There were also foreign speakers who contributed their views in the intercultural dialogue in talking about the internal topics in Indonesia. Pour said that by watching and being involved in this discussion in Wilton Park, things can be seen through clearer lens.

There are a lot of ways to do the intercultural dialogue, and there are a lot of parties who are encouraging these intercultural dialogues, not only the British Council. The Indonesian Heritage Society is also another group that enhancing the intercultural dialogue, I like joining this group for that reason. Bloggers are also a part of doing this intercultural dialogue. The global world sometimes seen flatter than ever, yet dialogues are always important aspects to gain peace!